I. Introduction:• The fall of the Han Empire left apower vacuum in China, that was filledby several small kingdoms with variouspolitical styles. Some were run in theChinese style with an emperor andConfucian bureaucrats. Other wereaffected by Tibetan, and Turkic cultureswhich depended on Buddhism to rule.
• In 618 C.E.,China wasreunified underthe reign of theLi family, whostarted what iscalled the TangDynasty.
•Under the leadership of emperor LiShimin, China expanded its influenceby demanding tribute from Korea andVietnam.• He reintroduced theuse of Confucianscholars in runningthe government.• He established auniversal law code.
• And he built the 1,100 mile GrandCanal, which linked the Yellow River innorthern China with the Yangzi River insouthern China. Thus improving tradeand communication in China.
Tang Inventions:1. Tang scholars developed block printing; a system of printing where characters are carved onto a wooden block. The block is then inked and pressed onto a sheet of paper.
2. Tang scientists invented gunpowderby combining saltpeter, sulfur, andcharcoal. It was first simply used forfireworks.
3. Tang physicians developed thesmall pox vaccine in the 10th centuryC.E.. However, the widespread use ofthis vaccine did not occur in China untilthe 16th century, and it did not reachEurope until the 17th century.
Tang Social Structure:•The Tang had a strict social structure;where, each class had its own rightsand duties, However, social mobilitywas possible from one class to another,through education.
• At the top ofChina’s socialladder was thegentry class.Most scholars andgovernmentofficials were fromthis wealthylandowning class.They were exemptfrom land taxes,and dominated themoney-lendingsystem of China.
• To avoid overextending thegovernment’s bureaucracy, Tangemperors allowed local nobles, andgentry to exercise significant power intheir regions.
•Next came the peasant class. MostChinese were peasants who workedthe land. They could move up insociety through education andgovernment service.
• At the social bottom was the merchantclass. Merchants were lower thanpeasants; because according toConfucian tradition, they made theirwealth off the labor of others.
• The Tang government issued curfewswithin urban areas to control crime.Commoners had to return to theirhomesbetween8 and10 p.m.
• During the Han era, China’s mainexport had been silk; however, by theTang period China had lost itsmonopoly on silk (Christian monks hadsmuggled silk worms out of China.)• At the same time, Western Asia(India) had lost its monopoly overcotton. Thus Tang merchants wereable to spin their own cotton cloth.
• China became the sole supplier ofporcelain, during this period.• By 1000 C.E., Chinese exportsoutnumbered Asian, European, orAfrican goods by a hundred to one.Making the Tang dynasty one of thewealthiest in Chinese history.
Tang Military:• The Tang militarycombined Chineseweapons, the crossbowand armored infantry,with Central Asianhorsemen by utilizingthe stirrup (developedin Central Asia.)
Tang Religion:• The imperial family used Buddhismfor political gain.• Buddhism became an important allyas competing princes obtained thesupport of Buddhist monasteries. Inreturn the monasteries received taxexemptions, land, and gifts from theprinces when they became emperor.
• Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhismbecame the dominate Buddhistteaching in China. It fostered faith inenlightened beings, who choose toremain on the earth in order to helpothers achieve enlightenment.•This Buddhist sect was popular amongthe Chinese; because it permitted thethe absorption of local gods andgoddesses into the Mahayanasainthood.
• After two centuries of Buddhistinfluence, members of the imperialfamily began to call for the eradicationof Buddhist influences and restore theancient values of hierarchy and socialharmony found in Confucianism.• Confucian scholars feared thatBuddhism was destroying the family.So they pushed for a return totraditional family values.
• Their worrieswere realizedwhen WuZhao, marriedinto theimperial familyand seizedcontrol of thegovernment in690 C.E.. Sheruled Chinauntil 705 C.E.
• Confucianscholars hadcontempt for allpowerfulwomen, so theyaccused WuZhao of abuseof power bypracticingtorture, andmurder.
Fall of the Tang Dynasty:1. Tang defeat at the Battle of Talas River, by a combined army of Arabs, Turks, and Tibetans ended its westward expansion, & control of the Silk Road.2. Tang conquest in the east required extreme taxation of its citizens.3. Disgruntled members of the gentry class began the Huang Chao Rebellion of 879-881 C.E.
III. The Song Dynasty (960- 1279 C.E.)• China experienceda short period ofgeneral chaos, afterthe fall of the TangDynasty. However,by 960 C.E. strongcentralgovernmentalcontrol wasreestablished underthe reign of theSong Dynasty.
Song Military:• The Song dynasty washalf the size of the Tangempire, but its army wasfour times as large. Itcontained 1.25 million men(about the size of the U.S.military today.)•Song military leaderswere educatedspecialists, who weretested on militarysubjects, and paid a
•Engineers became skilled in High-temperature metallurgy. They massedproduced steel weapons, and bodyarmor for soldiers.• Cavalry of thenorthern tribeswere countered byutilizing gun powerto propel a clusterof flaming arrows;and, by firing shellsthat blew out shards of iron.
SongEconomy:•China duringthis period didnot haveaccess to thelong-distanttrade networkthat existedduring theTang dynasty.
• But Chinabegan extensiverice cultivationby introducingnew hardystrains of rice.They were ableto harvest tworice cropsannually, givingthem anabundance offood.
• The Song pioneered the first use ofpaper money. Known as “flyingmoney” government issued papercertificates could be redeemed forcoinage at locations throughout China.
Song Arts:1. Songartisanswerefamous fortheir fineporcelain.
2. Chinese calligraphybecame artistic &standardized. The blanksheet of paperrepresented theoneness of the universebefore creation. Thestrokes reveal the unionof Yin and Yang, ink topaper until harmoniousoneness, the Dao, isachieved.
3. Song architectsdesignedmultistoriedtemples withornate roofs calledpagodas.
4. During the Song dynasty, gardensbecame extremely popular; and,Chinese gardens became famousthroughout Asia.
Song Technology:1. Movable type printing was developed; which increased printing speed, thus increasing the diffusion of ideas. Movable type spread to Korea and Japan, and was brought to Europe by the Mongols.
2. Songmathematiciansare the firstknown to haveused factions,which theyoriginallyemployed todescribe thephases of themoon.
3. Song astrologers were the first torecord the explosion of the “CrabNebula” in 1054 C.E.
4. Song scholars also Invented themechanical clock, which told the time ofthe day and the day of the month.In 1088 C.E.,Su-Sungcreated animperial clock80 feet tall.
Chinese Footbinding:• Footbinding beganas a Chinese fashionduring the 10thCentury C.E.. Its atechnique of forcingthe toes under theheel, so that thebones eventuallybreak makingwalking impossible.
• The Chinese practice of binding awoman’s feet probably began as theresult of an Empress having a club foot.She insisted that all women in the courtbind their feet so that hers became themodel of Court beauty.
• By 1200 C.E.,the practice wasfirmly entrenchedamong the elitesof society.• The practice wasformally prohibitedin China in 1911C.E.; butcontinued inisolated regionswell into the1930s.
IV. The Yuan Dynasty (1279- 1368 C.E.)•The Yuan Dynasty was the reign ofMongol invaders in China; which began withits founder Genghis Khan.• It was said that uponhis birth Genghis Khanheld a clot of blood inhis hand, which foretoldthe future of his worldconquest.
• During the 13th century C.E., GenghisKhan united the Mongol tribes andconquered a vast empire that stretchedfrom the Pacific Ocean to EasternEurope.
• He imposedstrict militarydiscipline on hisarmies, anddemandedabsolute loyalty.His highly trainedarmies containedsome of the mostskilled horsemenin the world.
•Once conquered, subjectpeoples were notoppressed by Mongolrulers. They were allowedto live their traditionallifestyles, as long as theypaid their yearly tribute tothe Mongols.• Mongol rulers were ableto establish a period ofpeace and order withintheir domain, for about 100years. This is referred toas the Pax Mongolica, orMongol Peace.
Kublia Khan:•Genghis Khan’sgrandson, KubliaKhan, ruled theMongol Empire inthe late 1200s.• He founded theYuan dynastythat ruled Chinafrom 1279-1368C.E.
He also established the empire’s capitalat Khanbalik (present-day Beijing.)
• Kublai Khan knew that an empirecould be conquered but not governedon horseback. So he strived to balanceMongol and Chinese traditions withinhis government. However, suchchanges were unpopular toconservative Mongols, who wanted toremain segregated from Chineseculture.
Marco Polo (I love that Game):• Marco Polo ismore than asummertime poolgame, he was amerchant fromthe city ofVenice, Italy.Between 1271-1295 C.E., hetraveled to thecourt of KubliaKhan.
• He published atravel guide called,“The Travels ofMarco Polo.” It givesan account of hisjourneys, and outlinehis 17 year of serviceto Kublia Khan.• Hugely popular inEurope, his bookprovided the firstmodern record ofChina.
Reasons for the Fall of the Yuan Dynasty:1. Mongol emperors abandoned their duties to govern; After the reign of Kubilai Khan, the government ceased to be concerned with the welfare of the people and neglected their duty to help them. Yuan officials were more concerned with seizing power, which caused revolts throughout the country.
2. Luxurious living of the Mongols; In order to pay for the extravagances of the Mongol court, the Chinese were heavily taxed. The result was uncontrollable inflation throughout the empire, making the China’s paper money worthless.
3. Racial segregation; China was divided into two separate societies (traditional Chinese & Mongolian.); and the Mongolians made no effort to assimilate into traditional Chinese culture.
The Chinese were prohibited from havingany real power in the government. –They were prohibited from military service. – They were allowed to hold local• positions in the provinces. But they could not be appointed to high government positions.
• By the 1350s C.E., several aristocratsliving in the provinces had establishedthemselves as independent kings. Chinawas no longer in the control of theEmperor—it had been carved up among adozen warlords.One of these warlords, from a peasantfamily, would become the founder of theMing dynasty. His name was ZhuYuanzhang.
By 1368 C.E., Zhuhad conquered allof southernChina, markingthe beginning ofthe Mingdynasty, and ruledas Hongwu (r.1368-1398 C.E.)
• Humiliated and oppressed by foreignrulers, the Ming dynasty came to presideover the greatest economic and social erain Chinese history. Chinese populationsreached over 100 million people. However,it was the last native Chinese dynasty..
Ming Achievements:1. They revived Confucian education.2. They restored the civil service system, making the exams more rigorous.
3. Ming emperors repaired the canal system that had been neglected by the Mongols.
4. Chinese cities became industrial centers (for Porcelain, Paper, tools.)
5. Agricultural cultivation was increased by giving tax- exempt property to farmers who cleared new farmlands in Southern China.
6. Ming emperors supported a revival of Confucian values in Chinese art and literature.
Confucian society was based on the Veneration of Elders;• Children must completely obey their parents. – Parents could sell children into slavery.• Students were expected to obey their teachers without question. – Teacher could have student executed for disobedience.
Confucian values also stated that women were expected to honor and respect first their fathers, then husbands, then son.• Upper-class women were educated; but could not take civil service exams.• Most women found that the only way to gain respect was by having male children.
Ming Art:• Mingartisansproduced blueand whiteporcelain thatis still prizedtoday, as thehighestquality China.
Ming Technology:•The first magneticcompassesdesigned fornavigation wereprobably developedin the 11th centuryC.E. by Chinesenavigators.• The Ming utilizedthis technology toexplore the Pacificand Indian Oceans.
Chinese Exploration (1405- 1433 C.E.)•Zheng He was aChinese explorerthat sailed toSoutheastAsia, India, Persia, and East Africa duringthe 15th century C.E.
• His voyages allowed the Chinese toestablish trade with these areas andspread the Chinese culture to the West.
• However, after Zhen He’s death in 1433C.E., the Ming Emperor ordered all voyagesstopped and trade with the outside world cutoff. His action limited China’s developmentand made theman easy target inthe comingcenturies of theEuropeans.
Reasons for Ending Overseas Exploration:1. The Chinese wanted to preserve their ancient traditions, which they saw as the source of stability.2. Confucian scholars had little interest in overseas trade. To them, Chinese civilization was superior to all others.3. Fleets of seagoing ships were costly and did not produce any profits.